EARLY COLONIAL, 1600-1715
Early New England Colonial, 1640-1715
Early Southern Colonial, 1640-1715
New England, 1715-1780
The Middle Atlantic, 1715-1780
The South, 1715-1780
THE YOUNG REPUBLIC, 1780-1820
AN EMERGING NATION, 1820-1860
Greek Revival, 1820-1850
Gothic Revival, 1840-1860
THE PICTURESQUE, 1840-1900
Swiss Cottage, 1840-1860
Italian villa, 1845-1870
Italian Renaissance Revival, 1845-1860
Exotic Eclectic, 1850-1875
Second Empire, 1860-1880
Queen Anne, 1880-1910
PALATIAL PALACES, 1880-1930
Second Italian Renaissance Revival, 1890-1930
Neoclassical Revival, 1895-1950
INDIGENOUS STYLES, 1880-1930
REMINISCENT STYLES, 1880-1940
Early Colonial Revival, 1885-1915
Dutch Colonial, 1890-1930
Spanish Mission, 1890-1920
Spanish Colonial Revival, 1915-1940
French Rural, 1915-1940
THE MODERN MOVEMENT, 1920-1960
Popular House Styles, 1945-1990s
Minimal Traditional, 1935-1950
Ranch and Split-Level, 1950-1965
Neo-Colonial Revival, 1950-1970s
Williamsburg Colonial, 1950-1990s
Miesian, 1950-1965 (rare)
Brutalism, 1960-1980 (even rarer than Miesian)
Builder’s Contemporary, 1960-1985
Builder’s Shed, 1965-1980s
Neo-Classical Revival, 1965-1990s
Neo-French Eclectic, 1975-1990s
Nouveau Traditional, 1980s-1990s
American Vernacular Revival, 1980-1990s
NOVELTY AND DIVERGENCE, 1960-1990s
adobe: an Arabic word for the sun-dried clay bricks used by the Spanish in the Southwest. The Indian structures were sun-dried clay as well but were usually not in the form of bricks.
arcade: a series of arches supported by columns or piers. architrave: 1) the lowest of the three parts of a classical entablature. 2) the exterior casing or molding around a window or door.
art nouveau: a style of decoration and architectural detail popular in the 1890s featuring sinuous, floral motifs.
ashlar: a kind of smooth-faced stone masonry with even horizontal and vertical joints.
astylar: a building without columns or pilasters.
balloon frame: a structural system or framework evolved about 1830 using standardized lightweight lumber where 2-by-4 studs ex¬tended from foundation to roof. Supposedly invented in Chicago by George Washington Snow, it replaced cumbersome heavy tim¬ber and braced framing and was made possible by the availability of inexpensive nails. After the Second World War it was generally replaced by the western or platform frame which was constructed one story at a time.
baluster: a post or spindle supporting a handrail on a stairs or balcony railing.
balustrade: a section of low “fencing” consisting of intermittent supporting posts and horizontal rails with balusters or crossbars in between.
barge-board: a board, often elaborately carved, attached to the projecting edge of a gable roof. Also called a verge-board. Com¬mon to the Gothic Revival, Elizabethan, and Tudor styles. Baroque: the late phase of Renaissance architecture which origi¬nated in Italy in the early 1600s and spread throughout Europe. It is characterized by its energetic, curvilinear [sic], and grandiose design.
batter: the slight inward slope sometimes given to a wall, tower, or pier.
bay: a projected portion of a building, as in a bay window. Also the dis¬tance or span between two principal column lines or framing members.
bay window: a window or band of windows that projects from the face of a building within a structural bay.
belt-course: a horizontal band on the facade of a building, usually indicating the floor level behind it. Also called a string course, it is sometimes placed just below the windows.
belvedere: a pavilion or building constructed as a place to enjoy an engaging view. It can be anything from a gazebo in a small garden to Palladio’s Villa Capra (page 38).
berm: an earth embankment placed against a masonry foundation wall, or simply an elongated mound of earth.
beveled siding: horizontal overlapping boards that are thinner at the top than they are at the bottom. (See clapboard.)
blind arch: a shallow, windowless niche or recess in a wall that is defined by an arch.
braced frame: a system of timber framing incorporating the major components of heavy timber framing at corners as well as the tops and bottoms of walls but depending on long diagonal braces at the outside corners for lateral stability. Knee braces are eliminated and lighter weight studs are used approximately two feet on center as intermediary structural supports.
bracket: any strut or angled support of a shelf, beam, overhang, or projecting roof
bracket capital: a heavy, squared timber making a tee on top of a timber post extending a foot or so under the girder which it supports. Found in the Spanish Southwest where they were often embellished with decorative curves.
broken pediment: a classical pediment which does not close at the top. It was a feature of Baroque architecture and was incorporated into some late Stuart and Georgian work.
bungalow: a one-story house with large overhangs and a dominating roof. Generally in the Craftsman style, it originated in California in the 1890s. The prototype was a house used by British Army officers in India in the nineteenth century. From the Hindi word bangala meaning “of Bengal.”
buttress: a masonry projection from a wall to add strength and to resist the outward thrust of a roof or vault above.
campanile: a bell tower usually attached to or near a church. canales: (Spanish) projecting gutters or spouts built to carry rainwa¬ter away from the face of a building. Prominent in Pueblo style houses.
cantilever: a projecting or overhanging beam, slab, or portion of a building with no visible means of support.
capital: the top part of a classical column. (See entablature.) cartouche: a fancy oval or oblong decorative device usually embel¬lished with swags or garlands.
casement window: an operating window hinged on one side which swings either in or out (usually out).
cement:: a powder of calcined (burned) rock or stone used to make concrete. Portland cement was first made in Portland, England. clapboard: (pronounced “kla-bord”) overlapping horizontal boards used as siding on wood-framed houses. It is often wedge shaped with the narrower edge along the top and is called beveled siding. In England it is called weatherboarding.
classical: referring to the formal architectural style of ancient Greece or Rome or to the styles which derived from these prototypes. clerestory: (pronounced “clear-story”) a series of windows placed high in a wall. Evolved from the Gothic churches where the clerestory appeared above the aisle roofs.
cobble: (cobblestone) a naturally rounded, uncut stone usually eight to twelve inches in diameter.
column: a supporting post, generally round. In classical orders the column consists of base, shaft, and capital (page 42).
common bond: brickwork where a row of headers is placed between five or six courses of stretchers. (See Flemish bond.)
concrete: a mixture of cement, water, sand, and stones (called aggre¬gate) which hardens to a stonelike consistency.
console: a small bracketlike member placed at the soffit of a cornice or roof overhang. Implies a double or shallow S curve in profile. Contemporary: any modern house that derives its character from the nature of its own materials and structure rather than from traditional or derivative stylistic expressions.
corbel: a projecting stone or a succession of stone or brick projecting from a masonry wall which supports a beam, shelf, or balcony. Corinthian order: the most elaborate of the classical orders (page 41).
cornice: the upper portion of a classical entablature. Also the pro¬jecting decorative molding placed at the top of a wall or pillar or at the eave line of a roof. (See entablature.)
corona: the horizontal member just below the crown molding in a classical entablature. (See entablature.)
cottage orne: a rustic, romantic Victorian house using tree trunks and branches as columns and brackets.
course: the continuous level range of brick or masonry throughout the face or faces of a building.
crenellation: the notched parapet or battlements at the top of a castle wan.
cross-gabled: front- and rear-facing gables at right angles to the main axis of an end-gabled building.
crown molding: the cymarecta cap molding at the top of a classical cornice (page 39).
cupola: a small turretlike structure projecting above a building’s roof. Usually glazed but can be louvered. (See lantern.)
cymarecta: the double-curved crown molding that often caps a clas¬sical cornice. (See entablature.)
cymatium: the crown molding that caps a classical cornice (often a cymarecta).
dentils: small rectangular blocks placed in a row, like teeth, as part of a classical cornice. (See entablature.)
dependency: an outbuilding or wing of a house usually connected to the main house by a hyphen that forms part of a five-part composi¬tion promoted by Palladio.
Doric order: the earliest and simplest of the classical orders (page 40).
dormer: a glazed structure with its own roof that projects from the main roof of a building or is a continuation of the upper part of a wall so that the eave line is interrupted by the dormer.
double-hung window: a pair of superimposed wooden sashes that are offset so as to slide up and down within the same frame. Called a sash window in Britian.
Dutch gable: a masonry gable that extends above the roof as a parapet and is either stepped or given a fanciful curved profile. Also called a Flemish gable.
eave: the lower edge of a roof which projects beyond the face of the wall.
egg and dart molding: a decorative molding in classical cornices that resembles alternating egg-shaped ovals with downward-pointing darts.
English bond: brickwork where each course alternates between one row of headers and one row of stretchers. (See Flemish bond and common bond.)
entablature: the top portion on a classical order supported by col¬umns which forms the base for the pediment. It consists of the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice (page 41).
entasis: the slight inward curve or taper given to the upper two-thirds of a classical column.
eyebrow dormer: an arched roof dormer with no side walls; the roof simply curves to follow the arch of the window
facade: the front or principal elevation of a building. Sometimes other elevations are called facades, but the term usually refers to the front.
fanlight: a semicircular or elliptical transom window above a door¬way. Introduced in the Federal period, it is an identifying feature of the Federal or Adamesque house.
fascia: the finish board which covers the ends of roof rafters. fenestration: the window openings of a building. Often includes exterior door openings as well.
festoon: a carved loop or garland of leaves and flowers suspended between two points, used to embellish or decorate a building.
fillet: a small square molding directly above the corona and the crown molding on a classical cornice. When there is a pediment the fillet is “hinged” or “split”-one horizontal along the horizontal corona and one diagonal between the crown molding and the sloping corona of the cornice.
finial: a decorative ornament affixed to the top of any pointed roof or architectural feature.
Flemish bond: a distinctive pattern of brickwork where the headers (ends of the brick) alternate with the stretchers (sides of the brick) and where each course is staggered so that a header is always centered above and below a stretcher. Common in Georgian build¬ings both here and in England. (See English bond and common bond.)
Flemish gable: see Dutch gable.
fluting: the parallel, vertical, concave grooves incised along the length of a column. The Tuscan column was actually the only order to omit fluting.
foliated: floral decoration, specifically the use of leaves.
folly: a whimsical or romantic structure built with no utility other than to enhance a garden or view. Popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as gazebos, grottos, and even ruins. From the French folie meaning delight or favorite abode rather than the commom [sic] use of the word meaning foolish or stultified effort. foursquare: the name given to the simple, square-shaped house built in profusion as middle-class housing between 1900 and 1930.
frieze: the middle section of a classical entablature-between the architrave and the cornice (pages 40-41). It is also the name of any long, horizontal section at the top of a wall just below die ceiling, or the eave line if it is exterior.
gable: the triangular portion of a wall defined by the sloping edges of the roof and a horizontal line between the eave line. Can also be a gabled dormer.
gable roof: a pitched roof that ends in a gable.
gambrel roof: a ridged roof having two slopes on each side where the lower slope is steeper than the upper.
garrison colonial: a neo-colonial revival of the Early New England Colonial clapboard house featuring the jetted or overhanging second floor and usually diamond paned windows.
grade: the ground level around a building.
hacienda: (Spanish) an estate devoted to agriculture. A rancho would be comparable but devoted to stock raising.
half-timber: a timber-framed building where the infill of nogging or wattle and daub is left exposed to the weather as opposed to being covered by clapboards as was common in New England.
head: the top section of a window, door, or other opening.
hip: the sloping ridge formed by the intersection of two adjacent roof planes.
hipped roof: a roof comprised of four or more sloping planes that all start at the same level.
home: an occupied primary resident or dwelling place.
hood molding: a molding placed above a window or door that turns downward at the end and then turns horizontal again for a very short distance. Common to Gothic buildings or styles that evolved from the medieval era. Also called a drip molding.
hopper window: an inswinging window hinged at the bottom.
horseshoe arch: an arch shaped like a horseshoe-common in Syria and the Far East. Appears in Exotic Revival houses in the 1850s¬1880s. Also called a Syrian arch.
house: a building constructed as a residence or dwelling.
hyphen: the portion of a five-part Palladian composition that con¬nects the main central block to the two flanking dependencies. Ionic order: the second of the classical orders (page 41).
jamb: the sides of a door, arch, or window opening.
jetty: the overhanging cantilever or projection of an upper story in front of the facade of the story below it.
knee or knee brace: a short diagonal framing member in timber¬frame construction connecting a vertical post with a horizontal beam and by triangulation makes the connection laterally stable.
lally column: a concrete-filled pipe column.
lancet arch: a pointed arch, characteristic of Gothic architecture.
lantern: another term for a cupola.
leaded glass: a window comprised of small panes of glass held together by lead strips called cames.
lean-to: a shedlike structure with a single sloping roof built against a house or barn.
light: a pane of glass, as in a window light, or the whole sash, as in a skylight.
lintel: a load-bearing beam which spans a door or window opening.
loggia: a pillared gallery or porch open on at least one side. Usually an integral part of the building’s mass rather than an appended porch.
mansard roof: a roof having two slopes on all four sides. The lower slope can be curved but is always close to vertical and the upper slope is always close to horizontal. Named for the French architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666) but popular in the Second Empire style of the 1850s. (The English consider a mansard roof syn¬onymous with a gambrel roof which has a double-sloped roof on two sides rather than on all four.)
masonry: stone, brick, or concrete block construction.
medallion: a round or oval-shaped decorative device used in plas¬tered ceilings but also used as an embellishment on the exterior of elaborate Baroque buildings.
modern: a house built with twentieth-century skills and materials. Usually means contemporary but could be a modern reproduction.
modernistic: a derogatory term for a copy or imitation contempo¬rary. Particularly pertinent to Moderne buildings of the 1920s and 1930s.
modillion: a small ornamental bracket used in series in the cornice of the Corinthian and Composite orders.
mortise and tenon: a joint or connection in wood construction consisting of a squared-off cavity (mortise) made to receive a projection on the end of a piece of wood (tenon).
mullion: a vertical post, frame, or double jamb dividing two window sashes or large panes of fixed glass. Not to be confused with muntin.
muntins: the cross pieces dividing the panes of glass within a window sash. Often incorrectly called mullions.
nave: the large central volume of a church or cathedral flanked by side aisles. From the Latin navis for ship or naval.
nogging: the brick infilling between the timbers of a timber-framed building.
octagon: an eight-sided building usually with a hipped roof popu¬larized by Orson Squire Fowler in the 1850s. (See page 78.) order: any of several specific styles of classical architecture. oriel window: a bay window on an upper floor usually associated with late medieval buildings.
orne: see cottage orne.
Palladian: the architectural interpretation of classical architecture by Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), or any classical style based on his work. Lord Burlington and Colen Campbell established Palladianism as the principal English style in the first half of the eighteenth century. It had an important influence on the course of American colonial architecture in the second half of the eighteenth century.
parapet: the extension of a masonry wall above the roof line.
parti: (pronounced “par-tee”) the architect’s resolution of a design concept-a basic layout. All the designs in this guide have the same parti.
patio: (Spanish) an open courtyard. The word has come to mean almost any ground-level area used for outdoor living.
pediment: the triangular gable defined by the crown molding at the edge of a gabled roof and the horizontal line between the eaves.
pent: a small shed roof attached to the wall of a house without brackets. Common in Pennsylvania.
pergola: an arbor or open structure constructed of wood and serving as a framework upon which vines grow
piazza: an obsolete term for a broad verandah.
Picturesque: the romantic styles of architecture usually associated with most of the Victorian era based on the seventeenth-century paintings that idealized man’s relationship to nature.
pilaster: a flat rectangular column attached to the face of a building¬ usually at the corners-or as a frame at the sides of a doorway.
pitch: the slope of a roof, usually given in degrees or as a ratio of height to a base of twelve-as in a 4 to 12 or a 6 in 12 pitch or 4:12 or 6:12.
plate: the horizontal framing member at the top of a wall.
plinth: the projecting base or block of a wall or column.
podium: a low wall or base serving as a platform for a building.
porch: a covered platform, usually with its own roof, attached to a building serving as a covered entryway or as a covered living area. (See verandah.)
portal: a doorway or entrance gateway.
porte cochere: a covered entrance porch for carriages, called a carport since the introduction of the automobile.
portico: a roofed entrance usually with columns.
pueblo: a communal building made of adobe by the Indians in the Southwest.
quoin: the dressed or finished stones at the corners of a masonry building. Sometimes faked in wooden or stucco buildings. rafter: a sloping roof beam.
rail: a horizontal frame of a door, window sash, or panel. (A vertical frame is called a stile.)
rake: the slope or pitch of the gable end of a roof or rafter. Renaissance architecture: the styles of architecture based on classi¬cal prototypes which evolved in Italy in the fifteenth century and spread throughout Europe in the following three hundred years. It culminated in the late eighteenth century with the Georgian architecture of the British colonies in North America.
reveal: the side wall next to a recessed door or window
ridge: the horizontal line formed by the juncture of two sloping roof planes.
riser: the vertical surface of a stair. (The horizontal surface is called a tread.)
rococo: the fanciful style of decorative interior architecture which evolved in France around 1720 during the reign of Louis XV rusticated: masonry cut in large rectangular blocks and set in deep joints, giving a bold and assertive accent.
saltbox: a house squarish in plan with two stories at the front and one story at the rear, having a short sloping roof on the front and a long sloping one on the back.
Syrian arch: see horseshoe arch. tenon: see mortise and tenon.
terra cotta: a baked clay material similar to brick but usually shaped in the form of tiles, decorative panels, or sculpted nonstructural features.
timber frame: a structural framing system incorporating large wooden members cut from tree trunks and shaped into square or rectangular sections with mortise and tenon joints held together with wooden pegs called trenals (from “tree-nail”). The frame is laterally braced with strategically placed knee braces.
trabeated: a structure based on post and beam construction as opposed to arched or vaulted construction.
tracery: the decorative pattern of supporting mullions in a Gothic window
transom: the horizontal divider separating a large lower window from a smaller window above it.
transom window: a window or light above a door or window tread: the horizontal surface of a stair. (The vertical surface is a riser.)
Tudor: the English architectural style of the sixteenth century.
turret: a circular or polygonal projecting bay or structure usually with a steep pointed roof.
Tuscan order: the simplest of the five Roman classical orders and the only one that has smooth columns rather than ones with fluting (page 40).
tympanum: the triangular area within the moldings of a pediment.
Usonia: Frank Lloyd Wright considered this a better name for the United States. It suggested United States of North America and obviated confusion with any country in South America or the Union of South Africa. He attributed the term to Samuel Butler though the word does not appear in any of his novels. Wright referred to his modest, flat-roofed houses of the late 1930s as his Usonian houses.
vault: an arched or domed structure.
verandah: a covered porch used for sitting and entertaining.
vernacular: regional architecture with no stylistic pretensions. Non-architected rural buildings.
viga: (Spanish) the projecting beam ends or roof rafters of a Spanish or Indian pueblo.
volute: the spiral scroll-shaped capitals of the Ionic order. Also the spiral curved terminus of a handrail.
voussoir: the wedge-shaped stone or brick used to form an arch or vault.
wattle and daub: a mixture of sticks and clay used to fill the space between the structural members of a timber-framed structure.
weatherboard: an English term for clapboard or beveled siding.
Baker, John Milnes. American House Styles: A Concise Guide. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Ltd., 2002.